WSA Reader: Pros & Cons of Home School, Pt 2!

As we settle in for the 'long haul' of distance learning, reader Ellie has put together her thoughts on more pros and cons of distance learning. We are happy to report that our intrepid reader is still learning, and still smiling, confident, with a little help from school, there is gas in the tank to see her through!
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

One month into distance learning with my twin five year old’s and I have a load of new Pros and Cons, and my optimism is intact!

Caveat: if I wasn’t working for myself with 100% flexibility then it would probably be a less positive story. And I wouldn’t have time to write it.

That important caveat aside, here are my new Pros:

Independence. The school read my mind. “Let’s do it independently!” is the new mantra. Our brilliant, brilliant teachers design learning that requires minimal intervention. And, good grief, my kids are becoming independent. Not just school stuff – everything!

Learning styles. I’m still scratching the surface but it’s the key to everything. Different kids learn differently – we all know that, right?  I feel like I’m unlocking their entire lives...I’m getting better handling both children and I think they even like me a lot of the time! I’m helping them to learn fundamental stuff like reading, writing and maths which is awesome!  This is going to be so useful forever.

Kids are Hilarious. We’re all on top of each other downstairs so I can’t help but listen in - and it’s priceless. I have to run to the loo so they can’t hear me laughing. I’m noting it all down in a ‘Lockdown Diary’: future birthday speeches will be a piece of cake.

Actually, full disclosure, it’s also a bit terrifying as of course they are echoing so much of what I say… Ahem. I hadn’t realised quite how ‘shouty’ I am. Work needed...

Problem solving. I don’t know if it’s because they’re the same age and so have the same schoolwork, or because they are now just playing a whole lot more (we spend an hour and a half max on school) - but, my, are they problem-solving! The creative one problem-solves so unexpectedly beautifully, and the logic-lover problem-solves with such elegant brevity, that I’m quite blown away.


And my new Cons:

Differentiation and the reluctant learner. Like most siblings my guys have very different strengths, but there’s no age gap to ‘cushion’ parental or self-comparison (is that a thing? I mean the way even five year old’s can compare themselves to each other). I have widely varying abilities and one very reluctant learner. The downside of discovering different learning preferences is having to then implement this!

Differentiation means ‘tailoring instruction to meet differing needs’.  Or, how a teacher magically ensures that 20-odd children in a class explore an idea at a level appropriate to them: simple enough to understand but challenging enough to tantalise and stretch. Well, I find this really, really difficult to pull off all the time!

Apps, online educational platforms and privacy. I have concerns about the privacy of my children’s information. Were these platforms designed for distance learning and for this volume of information? Where does all that data on my children go and can they have it back? Even when I’m happy that digital security is in place and promises are made not to sell data, no system is un-hackable. Don’t even get me started on educational Apps and targeted marketing… All this information on our children’s evolution is valuable to someone, right? It concerns me, but that’s as far as I’ve got. It’s now a ‘known unknown’. Hmmmm.

Think of the teachers!  For the younger kids like mine teachers are teaching me as well as the children (horrors!!!). How on earth do they do it for an entire class?! I’m in favour of adding as many extra CPD days as needed between now and the summer, if that helps (CPD, that’s continued professional development – the days when schools are closed to pupils for teachers train and plan).

Problem solving. There’s a downside. The kids came dangerously close to solving the problem of how to re-light the garden campfire (I noticed just as they found the matches). They have solved the problem of running out of whiteboard markers by using permanent ones. As I write, they have solved the problem of how to feed lunch to their animal hospital patients with the contents of the fridge. Over the sofa. It goes on. I am proud, and very tired.

In all, I’m still smiling and still feeling that we are generally doing pretty well.

Is this sustainable for the next two months, plus?  Yes and no, for me. I have no idea where the peak of my learning curve will be! Until then, just as we all got used to the new ‘tidy’, next we’ll be getting used to the new ‘clean’ and the new interior design look ‘ravaged’.

I’m confident the school will continue to survey parents and allocate just the right amount of schoolwork. As long as I can help translate that into something that each child finds interesting and challenging (with their teachers’ ongoing help!) then we we will all be fine. The good news is that the kids are having fun and are still peachy-keen.

I’ll continue working on keeping this up – and on feeling thankful that I have the choice to do so, with such great teachers and school in charge.

Read part 1 of the series, here!

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